The Royal court production of Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2, and 3). By Suzan-Lori Parks, directed by Jo Bonney, (2014) was a “provocative” (Collins) performance that invited the audience to draw contemporary parallels from historic material. It’s deep and entwined grounding in a base of Greek war theatre and its in-depth exploration of sensitive and relevant themes enabled Parks to piece together a performance that seeks not only to explore the parallels between historical racism and the racism of the modern day but allowed her an element of subtlety that was used to varying degrees of success during the performance. Our protagonist Hero encounters the harsh reality of racism during the civil war, a historical event which the majority of audience members will be familiar with. As a slave Hero must deal not only with the oppressive and intolerant societal values he grew up with, but also with the inner conflict of fighting for the wrong side to secure his own freedom. In this analysis it is my intention to prove that the play material is an allegory for the modern day, I will examine how costume, music, set design and acting serve to connote the idea that this war, and indeed racism itself, is a fight that is still being fought.
The use of costume in Father comes home from the wars (Parks 2014) is an aspect that borders on being almost too subtle in some instances and somewhat militant in others. One example being the costume of the chorus in the first part who were dressed in period appropriate clothing, their ragged and dirty appearance serving to symbolise the downtrodden position slaves had in that society. However one aspect of their clothing was undoubtedly modern, their shoes. “I’m betting my shoes” (Park...
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... he is just another audience member who happens to be somewhat ingrained in the action. Near the end of part 3 Bargonetti made the transition from a storyteller to part of the story himself when he became part of the discussion with the runaways, huddled around a map in the upper stage left corner. Although prior to this Bargonetti had been used to tie the different sections together with music, this was the first time he physically interacted with the characters. The effect of this was initially jarring as it truly felt like a modern-day audience member had been dragged on stage, creating a direct link between us and the actors. By orchestrating this interaction in the final part with the modernized runaways it helped to instill the notion that the action on stage seemed to be timeless, as if it could be occurring in any time period, historic or modern.
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